Momentous Days for Our Parish Provides Opportunities to Grow in Love

Living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into Him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love.
— St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians 4:15-16

With the body, so too with a parish; thus is it meant to be and thus has it been in these past few weeks! St. Paul’s recurring image for the church was the many parts of a body working in a symphony of cooperation and mutual support. How edifying it has been to witness this kind of teamwork on vivid display in preparation for and celebrating two momentous and deeply significant occasions for our parish over the past couple of weeks: Fr. Don’s visitation and funeral and our annual Forty Hours Eucharistic Devotion.

I truly cannot say enough about how encouraging it was to watch people from all campuses, staff, volunteers and parishioners working together to accomplish a greater good than could have been accomplished in isolation. Thanks to all of you who rallied together for these occasions. A special thanks is due to our office staff for going above and beyond. I am truly amazed by their generous spirit of service. With respect to the funeral and visitation I would especially mention Diane, Marion, Leon, Stasu, Tom, Jordan, Caroline, Madeline, Arlys, Martin, Sonny and Steve. Volunteers are too countless to mention, but I would single out some groups including St. Hedwig’s Women’s Guild, the Seven Sisters, Tuesday Toilers, decorators led by Heidi Burmis, members of the NET Team, ushers, our funeral lunch crews and the food service staff at River Village for the particular roles that they played. Additionally, Fr. Don’s primary caregivers should be affirmed for their conscientious care for him in his final weeks and preparations for a holy death. It was a special privilege to welcome a brother and sister of Fr. Don along with a number of their family members from Kansas for the funeral.

Regarding Forty Hours, I would especially note Chris Brand with his singers and Jordan Monson and his dedicated team of servers and ministers who all outdid themselves. Bravissimi! Of course my gratitude is due to my brother priests present for both of these occasions, to Archbishop Hebda, to Fr. Stan, Fr. Hagan, Deacon John and many of our seminarians. Also, our Forty Hours was especially blessed this year by the joyful presence and preaching of Fr. Michael Niemczak! It was a delight to watch him bridge the gap that sometimes exists between the Polish and English contingents that make up our parish. Bardzo dobrze! For those of you that did not hear him, or those who might like to revisit his rich reflections, we will soon be posting some of the content on our website along with a photo gallery from Forty Hours Closing Service. Special thanks to Zach Jones for serving as photographer.

To Bernadette Jambor and Ewa Petros and their crew who arranged the Wine and Cheese Social and to Mario Pierzchalski and his crew, to Mike Burns, Butch Wrzos and members of the NE Holy Name Society who assisted the many priests and deacons who gathered for a celebratory dinner.

Of course, there have been countless other things going on, especially in this season of Lent where our parishioners work so tirelessly to provide hospitality and good food to so many who gather for Friday Fish Frys and Wednesday Soup Suppers. I have joked that on some days it seems like I see the same people around for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is a sign of a parish where people come to find life (and a good meal)! Thanks are due for those who work behind the scenes and on the floor: cooking, welcoming, serving, cleaning and more. I have been amazed at the teamwork that makes it all happen so gracefully, week after week. A great witness of dedication. A special thanks to our new volunteers and especially our engaged couples who have been helping out. Many hands make light work.

After all our Lenten meals together, I must say that I am well fed. But even more, my heart is full: full of gratitude for you. Thank you for letting Christ draw us deeper together in mutual love and service. All of us have a role in this great parish. Thank you for showing up and saying yes. May we support one another and always delight in one another. There are still many graces in what remains of Lent and into Holy Week. We remember that our God can never be outdone in generosity. Although we cannot outdo Him, we always need our hearts to be stretched to greater generosity. Perhaps we could together pray St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Prayer for Generosity:

Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you at you deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to see for rest; to labor and not to ask for reward save that of know that I do you will. Amen.

In hope of further growth in unity and love as a parish,

Fr. Howe